Oh yes indeed.
The trees are beginning to turn. The year is again cycling towards its cold, dark end.
Having been an educator for many years, the transition from July to August would inevitably fill (still does; it's a hard habit to shake) me with dread. It's a prolongation of the melancholy that most children feel, as the sweet freedom and long warm days of play count relentlessly down to the regimented routine of school days, homework, bagged lunches and a largely indoor existence. I'm glad to be free of that, but the dread is still there, because it's not just back-to-school, but also the impending arrival of frost and rain and snow and ice, which seem to last forever, while summer whistles breezily by, gone before you even realize it's here.
This melancholy sight - this bright, cheery leaf that seems to be laughing in the face the recoil it elicits - is also a bit of pathetic fallacy, given the general tenor of world events, near and far, these past 12 months. It seems like we are all rushing towards a cold, dark place, and there's nothing we can do to stop it. Nature - human nature - is taking its course.
Yesterday, I crossed my own line in the sand and did something that I'd promised myself never to do. I engaged with a stranger in a political discussion on facebook. And while it didn't go far (nor did it make me feel any better; on the contrary, I was relieved when the person who had started the initial discussion later deleted it in its entirety after it went completely off the rails), it did make me realize how heavily the world is weighing on me. I'm truly fed up with the Us or Them factionism that has taken hold, not just of politics (the most egregious arena) but also of society in general. This need to out-shout dissenting voices and claim supremacy of view and of voice. Self-affirmation and self-righteousness at all costs. And the costs are indeed heavy.
When I was a child, some well-intentioned adult gifted me a Children's Bible. I was a kid who devoured books, and I remember enjoying the stories in this bible and especially the illustrations, which were numerous and beautifully done. None of it stuck, however, and I've grown up to be happily atheist, agnostic, whatever. I do not have any need or esteem whatsoever for organized religion. But I don't begrudge anyone else the right or need to indulge. Live and let live, as the saying goes.
One story that must have resonated with the younger me came back to me in snippets this week as my mind groped to comprehend the latest horrors on the news. I had to look it up to get the details, but it was a judgement of Solomon, you know, the one where two women are both claiming to be the mother of a baby. Solomon was called to make a judgement, and he ruled that the child should be split in two so that each mother could have a piece.
That's what we've come to, it seems, metaphorically. Two factions, both claiming the moral high ground, at risk of losing and destroying it all.
So now I've done two things this week I never would have seen myself doing: arguing on facebook and referencing the Bible.
We truly are headed for a long, cold winter.